Monday, June 27, 2011

"Full of Compassion"

      "Will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth?  Behold, heaven and the Heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee; how much less this house which I have built?" (II Chronicles 6:18).
     "The Lord is gracious and full of compassion" (Psalm 111:4).
     How much compassion exists in a being so vast as to be beyond dimension, scope and measure?  There is no way to answer to the question because fullness and infinity are by logical definition incompatible.
    Compassion, in Biblical terms, is defined as being moved by the sufferings of others, and to mercifully enter into their pain and difficulty.  The infinite God is "full" of such sympathy and empathy for human beings, to the degree He became as one of us in order to completely know the degree of our sorrow.  In fact, He knows it even more than we do because unlike any other, the Lord Jesus Christ was "in all points tempted like as we are" (Hebrews 4:15).  Our Savior knew the full range of the self-imposed misery humanity suffers because of its willful unbelief and disobedience.  We forged the furnace of our pain.  The Lord Jesus so compassionately loves us that He imposed the furnace upon Himself in order to know what we know, and more importantly, to save us from our self destruction.
    "You made your own bed.  You must lie in it!"  This is the sensibility that pervades humanity as we view the sufferings of others.  "You formed your own cross.  I will die on it for you!"  This is the sensibility that pervades the heart of God as He views humanity through the lens of His measureless compassion.  It must be our sensibility as well, and it is if we have believed because the Bible declares Christians to be "vessels of mercy" (Romans 9:23).  We may not always feel it, and we surely don't always express or practice it.  However, the God of compassion dwells in us by His Spirit, and He moves in mercy within us to cause our own empathy and sympathy for others.  We distribute that which we have received, and we do so to the degree of realizing how generous a portion of compassion our Lord gave concerning our own self imposed sufferings.  He did not leave us to lie in our own bed.  He left Heaven to hang on our own cross.  This is compassion, the boundless Divine sympathy and empathy that now dwells in us in order to be known by us.  "Having compassion one of another, love as brethren" (I Peter 3:8).
    These are hard words to write because I realize how hard my attitude often is toward others.  Thank God that His attitude is tender toward a human race so lost and wayward in its chosen and willful rebellion.  He could not be otherwise because, again...
"Thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth."
(Psalm 86:15)
"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies."
(Psalm 103:2-4)

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